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RED BANK - Shane Panzini had Wednesday, June 16 circled on his calendar as the day he hoped to make his final start as a Red Bank Catholic baseball player.

It was not under the circumstances he had hoped, nor was it, by his own admission, his best performance, but Pazini's outing against Christian Brothers Academy in the Monmouth County Tournament semifinals was another dominant one in a career that was dominance personified.

Panzini struck out 14 in his final start at Red Bank Catholic and was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the Caseys - the No. 2 seed in the MCT - past the Colts, 3-1, and into the championship game Friday against No. 4 Rumson-Fair Haven.

"I just wanted to pitch my team to a championship game," said Panzini, who also did just that last week when he defeated Bishop Eustace to advance RBC into the South NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A championship game. "I wanted to go out with a win so whatever struggles I might have had today, it is better than going out with a loss."

"To go 19-2 for his career, is pretty impressive," Red Bank Catholic coach Buddy Hausmann said of Panzini. "It would have been nice to see him get a full career where he gets to pitch as a junior."

Red Bank Catholic has won three straight games since losing the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A final, 6-5, in extra innings to St. Augustine in heartbreaking fashion. Had the Caseys recorded the final out in the bottom of the seventh to win the section and advance to the Non-Public A championship, Panzini would have been pitching Wednesday at Veterans Park in Hamilton against St. Joseph of Montvale.

"It was tough, but we have another championship to win here," Panzini said. "We've just tried to move on to the next thing and try to get the job done.

Instead of pitching RBC to its second ever group title and first since winning Non-Public B in 1997, Panzini brought the Caseys one step closer to the program's fourth MCT championship and third in the last four seasons. His command wavered at times, resulting in a season-high five walks and a hit batter, but he gave up only two hits in 6 1/3 innings before surpassing the NJSIAA single-game pitch limit of 110.

"I wasn't happy with my walks today, but I had to adjust," Panzini said. "It got better towards the end but my pitch count was already up. I was hoping to be a little better today, but we got the win, I gave my team a chance and we're playing for a championship on Friday, so I'm happy about all that."

"I don't know if it was the layoff or that it wasn't the state final but it wasn't quite what we have seen out of him over the past four starts," Hausmann said. "Not that he was bad. He had 14 strikeouts and gave up one run, but he has just been so untouchable lately."

As for his offense, all three of Panzini's plate appearances came with runners in scoring position, including his RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on first and second in the third, Panzini picked up an infield single and both Frank Scrivanic and Matt Scrivanic scored when the throw to first got away and ran up the fencing along the right-field line.

That was all the run support Panzini needed, although he was unable to get through the game within the single-game pitch count. The senior right-hander had 109 pitches through six, then struck out the leadoff batter of the top of the seventh to complete his final game on the mound as a Casey with 114 pitches.

"They were taking a lot of pitches - a lot of close pitches," Panzini said of the CBA lineup. "I wasn't really getting the calls, even when I felt like I was hitting my spot over and over, but what can you do? They did a good job."

Freshman Declan Leary surrendered a leadoff double to Liam Sweeney before settling in to retire the final two batters and close out the RBC win.

With his 14 strikeouts on Wednesday, Panzini sets a new single-season school record with 115 in his 61 2/3 innings. Hausmann struck out 108 in 67 innings in his senior year with the Caseys in 1998.

CBA got its run on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by junior catcher Joe Figliolino in the top of the sixth to score Gavin Kus, who doubled to leadoff the inning. Figliolino also singled off Panzini in the top of the second for the first of CBA's three hits in the game.

RBC threatened to add to its lead in the bottom of the fifth when Panzini singled to centerfield with one out and a runner on second, but Frank Scrivanic got the stop sign. CBA junior starter Colin Reilly got a strikeout before walking the bases loaded, which prompted CBA coach Marty Kenney Jr. to make a pitching change.

Junior Jack Frankovic ended the threat with a strikeout and proceeded to strike out the side in order in the bottom of the sixth to give him four punchouts in 1 1/3 perfect innings. In his last start, Frankovic took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Middletown North and wound up with a two-hit shutout in a 4-0 Colts win over the Lions in the MCT round of 16.

Frankovic - who started the game at third base - also had a perfect day of sorts at the plate, drawing three of the five walks issued by Panzini and also stealing three bases.

Red Bank Catholic and CBA have combined to win the last seven contested Monmouth County Tournaments. Red Bank Catholic won in 2013, 2017 and 2018, while CBA won three straight titles from 2014-16 and won the last MCT in 2019.

The Caseys will be trying to extend the combined run of dominance on Friday, but will have to do it with Panzini as a hitter only since he won't be eligible until Monday - the day after the NJSIAA spring season ends. Hausmann indicated sophomore Dominic Mallamaci would be the likely starter on Friday after he threw 76 pitches in Monday's round-of-16 win over Raritan. By NJSIAA rule, Mallamaci will be eligible to throw up to 74 pitches on Friday.

Sophomore Alex Stanyek was still recovering from his Thursday relief outing at St. Augustine, according to Hausmann and will likely be available in relief on Friday. Stanyek has been used exclusively in relief this season and has been particularly effective in his last three appearances (7 1/3 innings, one earned run, three hits, two walks, 16 strikeouts).

"We have never won three championships in one year and that's what we have a chance to do," said Hausmann, whose team already has a Shore Conference Tournament and Class A Central division title locked up. "If you would have told me going into the year we would win 24 games and three titles, I think we all would have taken that. So if we can go win our last game, I think that would be a pretty good way to end it."

Box Score

Red Bank Catholic 3, CBA 1

1234567RHE
CBA (11-12)0000010131
RBC (24-4-1)102000X360

Pitching

CBAIPHRERBBSOPC
Colin Reilly (L, 3-3)4.26313592
Jack Frankovic1.10000416
Red Bank CatholicIPHRERBBSOPC
Shane Panzini (W, 9-0)6.1211514114
Declan Leary0.21000012

Top Hitters

CBAGame Stats
Joe Figliolino1-2, RBI
Liam Sweeney1-2, 2B, BB
Gavin Kus1-4, 2B, R
Jack Frankovic3 BB, 3 SB
Harrison Campi0-1, BB, HBP, SB
Red Bank CatholicGame Stats
Shane Panzini3-3, RBI
Matt Scrivanic1-2, 2B, BB, R
Riley Supp1-3, 2B
Shane Andrus1-3
Frank Scrivanic0-1, BB, HBP, R